From Bread to Brewery: East Coast Beer Co.

East Coast Beer Co. finally finds a home in Belmar.

Signing Off: Freedman's Bakery in Belmar is making way for a brewery. The future of the classic sign is anybody's guess.

Since launching in 2007, East Coast Beer Co. has identified closely with the Jersey Shore. Soon, it will have a home there.

The company is building its own brewery on Main Street in Belmar on the site of the much-loved Freedman’s Bakery, which shut its doors in February after more than 60 years. The new brewery hopes to open by mid to late summer

Until now, East Coast Beer Co. has contracted with a brewery in Rochester, New York, to brew its beers. “Opening our own brewery was always part of the vision,” says John Merklin, the Brick native who co-founded East Coast Beer Co. with his buddy Brian Ciriaco. “Our whole thing was to develop a brand that told a story of the Shore, and now we get to bring it home.”

To accommodate the brewery, the old bakery building is getting a facelift, complete with a pier-themed façade, a new roof and awnings and an open-air patio. East Coast is planning brewery tours, tastings and a retail component.

Merklin says opening-day visitors can expect to see one or two new additions to East Coast portfolio, in the direction of higher gravity—meaning, in part, higher alcohol content—ales, porters or stouts.

As for Freedman’s, the bakery sold the recipes for its classic corn rye bread and Kneip kaiser rolls to Harvest House Bakery in Farmingdale, a 15-minute drive away. The fate of the iconic Freedman’s sign, however, is unclear. Merklin says the local historical society showed some interest in preserving the sign, but nothing had materialized at presstime.

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